Aaron Freeman of FalcFans fame recently brought up an interesting topic that we've nibbled at the edges of here at The Falcoholic.
Is my info wrong, or is most underwritten topics involving Falcons that Mike Smith isn't in extension talks in last yr of his deal?— Aaron Freeman (@falcfans) January 8, 2014
The fact that the Falcons have a lame duck head coach should be front page topic, right? Oh right, Falcons beat writers… #yikes— Aaron Freeman (@falcfans) January 8, 2014
This is indeed an important question for any number of reasons. It's fair to argue that the Falcons might lose or may have already lost some candidates for defensive line coach because they fear Smith being let go after this season. Not having an extension means Smith and the team's coaching staff in general are facing a ton of uncertainty. It's not necessarily a mistake to make a man coach for his job, but it introduces unnecessary uncertainty. It's not like a year's extension would prevent Arthur Blank from canning Smith if he really wanted to post-2014, after all.
I'm not going to disguise the fact that I'm in favor of an extension, for that reason and others. If Smith does have a great year and the Falcons return to relevance quickly, you want him under contract to keep the good times rolling. If he doesn't, it's a negligible cost for a billionaire owner to be rid of him. Having the contract means that free agents and coaches alike feel like they aren't coming into a situation where their role could change in a single season, which can make a difference.
Since he raised the question, I asked Freeman for his thoughts regarding a possible extension for Smitty. Here's his reply:
It's paramount that Arthur Blank addresses the situation in some way, the simplest being extending Mike Smith's deal by a year or two. It shows a commitment to the coaching staff that needs to be there for them to have any semblance of authority over the players.
Most coaching extensions are done within a month or two after the season, although it's not unheard of for negotiations to linger into the summer or just before the start of the regular season. However, that usually only occurs when a coach has leverage coming off a Super Bowl win or is named Belichick. That is not the case for Smith, so I suspect something should get done sooner rather than later.
Do you think Smith will coach out his contract this season, or is he in line for an extension?